New Zealand v Tonga: Five key points

New Zealand v Tonga: Five key points

After a devastating second-half surge cheered on by a sea of red in Hamilton, Tonga have beaten New Zealand 28-22 at the Rugby League World Cup.

Tonga are potential semi-final opponents for England.

"It was obvious from the day we got to Tonga how proud people were of them and they have just continued ever since".

New Zealand led 16-2 at half time but the Tongans replied with five tries in the second half and held off a comeback by the Kiwis.

A pinpoint bomb set up David Fusitu'a's first try, before his adlib effort to extend a play led to Tonga's second try 11 minutes later.

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Across the match the 22-year-old Wests Tigers playmaker was a leading contributor, running for 88 metres and controlling play well alongside halves partner Ata Hingano.

Tensions were at a high following Jason Taumalolo's change of allegiances to the tier-two nation and both sides let the emotions fire with a spine-tingling pre-game haka and sipi tau as both sides did their best to intimidate the opposition. View the New Zealand vs Tonga Preview.

All eyes were on a capacity Waikato Stadium for the highly-anticipated Group B encounter in Hamilton following the controversial defection of New Zealand and NRL star Jason Taumalolo to developing nation Tonga.

They kept racking up the points as Ben Murdoch-Masila shook off Kodi Nikorima to put Will Hopoate over, but New Zealand gave themselves one last chance with some individual brilliance from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. The 17 men in Tongan red had made history as part of the first ever Tongan side to defeat New Zealand in a competitive rugby league game.

New Zealand will face Fiji in the World Cup quarter-finals in Wellington, with the victor of that match likely to play Australia in the semi-finals in Brisbane.

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